November 5, 2021 - News Articles
In February 2013, we posted an article about writing comprehensive project scopes for web development. The article details the anxiety, trust, expectations, and comfort created by a detailed project scope for digital design and development, be it a web site, web application (SaaS), or Mobile App. This 5-page article takes designers and clients alike through the process of creating a scope and the benefits to both parties when embarking on a new project.
Since its creation, we’ve occasionally gotten feedback that the time and cost spent developing a scope was unnecessary, where ambitious entrepreneurs prefer instead to dive headfirst into building out the product. Their concerns are valid: I’m already allocating funds for the development of my app. Why do I need to spend more on this part of the strategy?
August 12, 2021 - Information Resources
What every prospective online homeowner should consider before breaking ground
When we’re approached about beginning a new Web presence, ecommerce system, or mobile or web application (referred to simply as “site” below), ERA404 likes to pose 10 questions to our clients. This not only stirs up ideas to begin the process, it also allows all parties to fully explore what the process of Web development entails.
1. What are three words you would use to describe your business in terms of focus, pace, and culture?
Oftentimes, the description of your business is identical to your site. If your business focus is technology, customer relations, politics or health, your site should have a similar feel. Is your pace is dynamic and fast-moving (like an online service or new product) or conservative and rock-solid (like a bank or a law firm)? Your business’s culture (fun, friendly, approachable, professional, formal, methodical, meticulous) should also be represented in your site’s design.
2. What are the general purposes for your site?
Your site should have a primary and secondary purpose (and sometimes even a tertiary one). Purposes could be to increase sales and awareness, to assist in distribution of products or services, informational, educational, eCommerce, subscription-based marketing, customer feedback, ISO or employee intranet, employment postings, product support, entertainment or forums.
3. Will this site be part of an existing marketing strategy?
Does your business already have a marketing strategy in place with previous printed collateral material, sites, or advertising campaigns? If it does, please send samples of these pieces to assist in ensuring the site works within the framework of your existing strategy. If it doesn’t, or if you’d like to deviate from your existing strategy, can you provide a description and/or examples of concepting for a new strategy? Would you be interested in working with ERA404 to develop this new cross-media campaign?
[ ] Yes, this site is part of an existing strategy.
[ ] No, this site varies from our existing strategy.
[ ] We currently do not have a strategy.
[ ] We’re developing a strategy in-house and will provide samples and a description.
[ ] We’re interested in working with ERA404 to develop a cross-media strategy.
4. What reactions (calls-to-action) are you hoping to achieve with this new Web site?
While this question hinges on #2 (general purpose), it’s important to outline your customer’s reaction to determine if the site is successful. If the site is information-based, this can be monitored with statistics. Other reactions could be: customer contact, online sales, forum/chat participation, increased customer retention, decreased phone, fax or email support calls, growth of marketing opportunities (mailing lists, newsletters, event participation, and RSVPs), etc.
5. How do you plan on maintaining your site?
ERA404 provides a number of maintenance opportunities including an online content management system (CMS), maintenance contracts, on-site training, or off-site tutorials for manual site updates. If you plan on updating your site at regular intervals, which opportunities interest you?
6. The Competition
Providing ERA404 with links to competition sites enables us to gauge what your competition is doing, how they’ve been successful, how they’ve failed, and what makes your business different. Please list some links to competitor sites.
b. How are you different from competition?
If you have direct competition, please list why your business is different and what you do that makes your business unique.
7. Which existing site designs appeal to you?
Existing site designs do not have to be competition, nor do they have to even be in the same industry. List some sites that you feel satisfy your general purpose and embrace your company’s focus, pace, and culture.
8. Aside from your calls-to-action, what are your short-term and long-term goals for this site?
Do you expect this site to grow, to have new sections, to have new features? Will this site work in tandem with other sites that your business may have? Do you expect changes in offerings, strategy or functionality?
While ERA404 designs all sites to be flexible, we believe pre-planning and preparation can assist in ensuring your site is cost effective and successful at attaining short- and long-term goals.
9. What additional materials do you have to assist us in providing you with an estimate and timeline?
Before beginning design and development, ERA404 provides site mechanicals (wireframes) and information architectures (IAs) to describe site layout, pages and functionality. Do these materials already exist? Can you provide us with sample page content, photography, identity pieces, and artwork? What is your estimated budget and site launch target?
[ ] Mechanicals
[ ] Information Architecture
[ ] Design Storyboards (GUIs)
[ ] Digital Content
[ ] Digital Identity
[ ] Artwork/Photography*
[ ] Budget: _________________
[ ] Launch Target: ____________
[ ] Copywriter*
[ ] Other: __________________
* If you do not currently have a copywriter, artist, or photographer, would you be interested in working with ERA404 to provide these services?
10. What are your expectations to deem this site a success?
For More Questions or Information
Contact ERA404 for more questions to get you going or for design and development estimates by clicking here.
Click the link below to download our “10 Questions” survey. The file is a PDF, so you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed to view it. You’re also able to fill-out the form using Acrobat by simply clicking a form blank and entering text or clicking checkboxes. When finished, email or fax the completed questionnaire to ERA404 or print it for your records.
Download the PDF: ERA404_10_Questions
April 4, 2021 - News Articles
This year, ERA404 celebrates 20 years! We started by moonlighting as freelancers in New York City on April 21, 2001, and have grown over the last 20 years to provide print, identity, motion, and environmental design, digital design and development, and strategy services to over 480 clients. With a fulltime staff of two and 50 contractual designers, developers, and artisans, ERA404 has helped hundreds of companies and individuals grow their brands, businesses, and visions. We owe all our success over the past two decades to the clients that entrusted us with their projects, the family and friends that supported us throughout the years, and our creative network, without whom ERA404 wouldn’t exist.
It’s been a fun, challenging, and exciting ride over the past 20 years and we’re looking forward to the next 20, continuing to help make the world a more understandable, functional, and beautiful place.
April 3, 2019 - News Articles
Happy 4/04! Each year on this date, we gather our employees and contractors for our annual “State of the ERA” meeting and discuss where we’ve grown and how our focus has evolved during the course of the year. Our 18th year (and 18th 4/04) is no different. And as we look back on the last year’s projects, we’ve recognized an emerging trend.
While streamlining internal workflows may not be the most glamorous strategic design, it’s gratifying because it still encompasses the heart of all the work we do: a client has a need and we work with them to resolve it. Typically, these problems present themselves as stumbling blocks, obstacles, and bottlenecks in existing internal workflows or the modernization of analog, antiquated processes.
- A client has a number of disparate worksites with employees and needs to effectively manage their time and assign it to multiple projects and clients.
- A client receives PDFs of attendee bookings for a number of hotels and needs to digitize, OCR, import, and organize the bookings into a master database to mail merge confirmations.
- A client needs to sell tickets for an event series and administrate the purchases and attendance records.
- A client needs to manage the check-ins of attendees, synced across multiple tablets that may or may not have a WiFi connection.
These are just a few examples of the projects we worked on this year. The list goes on and on. And with each new client and each new need, ERA404 has become unofficial experts in the world of the internal workflow. Our satisfaction is measured in increasing our clients’ efficiency and decreasing their manual labor. And when a client tells us that the alleviated stress of internal systems has allowed them to focus more on the part of their work that they love to do, that’s just as great a reward as any award-winning design or mobile app micropurchase.
If your business has problems with internal workflows, you’ve found it to be inefficient and tedious, and you’re struggling to focus on your more enjoyable, meaningful work, then please drop us a line. We’d love to help.
October 31, 2014 - Press Releases
NEW YORK—This summer, Deb Deffaa of Trident Networks contacted ERA404 with an idea to bring the world of social networking to the crew of seafaring vessels. And while the logistics seemed mind-boggling, the idea sounded more than intriguing.
In 2011, the 360 commercial ports of America, alone, took-in goods worth $1.73 trillion. There are more than 100,000 ships at sea, carrying between 12 and 110 crew members. Each laborer signs-on for contracts lasting 4-6 months. And while many of the sailors have families at home—be it Germany, Panama, The Philippines, or somewhere in between—they need to keep in touch with expensive satellite phone calls and with limited access to email. Shore-leave time dwindles at just a few hours, giving them little ability to even set foot in the countries where they deliver their precious cargo. And their view through a porthole window always replays the same footage of the middle of the ocean.Read More
February 18, 2013 - Information Resources
When creating mechanicals for website strategy, or Strategic UI/UX, we often make recommendations for content that should be visible above the fold. In the context of Web search/usage, the term above the fold refers to the part of the web page a user can see without having to scroll down or use the scroll bar within their web browser. In general, this space is at the top of a Web page, and is considered prime real estate for visibility and getting information seen most efficiently. The term, itself, is derived from the web’s ephemeral predecessor, the newspaper, in which the most poignant stories—the ones that would be more likely to sell that particular newspaper over competing papers—were those that were above the crease on Broadsheet or Berliner sized papers. Web strategists use the term above the scroll interchangeably with above the fold.
As browser resolutions increase, the fold mark keeps changing. In 2013, 25.4% of the world was browsing at 1366×768, as opposed to only 18.7% in 2012. And the growing availability of mobile phones and tablet devices, such as iPads, has changed the landscape to a point where we can no longer rely on a majority resolution and location of the fold. As a result, we recommend fluid, responsive layouts that accommodate for the broadest range of resolutions possible. Not only does this help clients to be able to see the most important content, while helping them to sell their services over their competitors’, but it also helps us to reorganize and strategize content based on the different types of users. For instance, a user on a phone may be more interested in contact information, a tablet user may want to read topical news or view videos, and a desktop user may want more in-depth articles and research information. Responsive layouts help gear the content toward these different demographics and re-organize what’s seen above the various folds.
That said, we’re currently in the age of Cinema (16 x 9 resolutions) and Retina (2x Device Pixel Ratios) displays. With iOS’s dock protruding into the available horizontal space and retina’s ability to scale content by pinching, the confusion over the floating fold mark is mired further.
With the one caveat that the rapidly changing environment may soon render this outdated, our recommended fold mark remains 645px for landscape orientations (with allowance for a persistent bookmarks bar) and 900px for portrait.
Examples of our testing can be seen below:
If you’re interested in learning more about fold lines, Strategic UI/UX or the changing landscape of the web, drop us a line to initiate a conversation.